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Stem The Tides of Time

Anti-Oxidants For Anti-Aging


Q:  I’ve heard that antioxidants are important for anti-aging benefits.  Is this true? What are some of your favourites?

Totally Radical: In order to understand the benefits of antioxidants, it’s useful to clarify the concept of oxidative stress and free radicals.  On a daily basis, the cells of the body undergo oxidation, the interaction of oxygen with cells, as a part of normal cellular function. However a small percentage of cells will be damaged and converted into free radicals. These oxygen-containing molecules have one or more unpaired electrons, making them very reactive with other molecules. Free radicals can interact with cell components like DNA, proteins and lipids, and steal their electrons in an effort to become stable. This in turn triggers a chain of free radical reactions. When the body is unable to sufficiently quell the damage of this free radical activity, the harmful result is referred to as oxidative stress.  This type of damage has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s), gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, atherosclerosis, heart disease and inflammation to name a few.  In addition to oxidative damage naturally occurring in our bodies, various insulting factors also contribute to such reactions, like environmental pollutants, chemicals, UV rays etc.

Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron safely to help extinguish oxidative damage in cells. Several vitamins, like A, E and C, are important antioxidants for the human body.    

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an important component in the production of ATP, the main form of energy for cells in the human body. Organs with high energy requirements, like the heart and liver, depend strongly on CoQ10. Its antioxidant abilities come from its energy carrier function, which allows it to constantly oscillate between an oxidative and reduced state. It accepts electrons and becomes reduced, but holds them loosely and gives them up easily, thus stopping free radicals, and it itself becomes oxidized. CoQ10 can also regenerate other antioxidants like Vitamin E.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is another fantastic antioxidant that is also important to cellular energy production. In addition to antioxidant benefits, this supplement also helps increase insulin sensitivity.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. NAC is a building block for glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent. Glutathione naturally occurs in the body and is of extreme importance to health and longevity.  Unfortunately, as we age glutathione levels deplete, but supplementation with NAC can help boost them.

Chaga mushroom is considered a natural health food supplement that supports the adrenal glands, digestive organs, strengthens the immune system, is a nerve tonic, and is believed to slow down the aging process. It is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, contains 200+ phyto-nutrients, and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Traditionally it is brewed into a tea. It has a pleasant, woodsy vanilla flavour that tastes great on its own, as a latte, or mixed with coffee, cacao, dandelion or chicory root.

Slow down cell damage, disease and the aging process by supplementing with some antioxidants.  Keep it simple and look for products that have a combination of the above!!